Is It Safe to Take the COVID-19 Vaccine and the Flu Shot at the Same Time?

Is it safe to get an influenza shot on the same day you get a COVID-19 vaccine, including a booster? Would getting both vaccines on the same arm boost the chances of suffering side effects? Can kids who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine — children age 5 and older — get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine on the same day?

As we enter the height of the flu season — at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on in many regions of the country — many consumers are wondering whether they should spread out their flu shot and the vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Flu viruses are around throughout the year, but influenza activity typically increases in October and accelerates between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research suggests that it’s perfectly safe to get your flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine — including a booster — during the same visit to a pharmacy or a clinic, says Dr. Stanley Martin, /director of infectious diseases for Geisinger Health System. He’s based in Danville, Pennsylvania.

[ READ: What to Know About Flu Shots. ]

Research Finds No Interaction Between the Two Vaccines

“Both are perfectly safe, and both are perfectly effective,” Martin says. The only possible drawback to getting both shots in the same arm on the same day is the possibility that your arm might be sore for up to a day or two, but that shouldn’t cause long-lasting effects. If you do get both vaccines on the same arm, the American Medical Association recommends making sure they are at least an inch apart. That way, “if a local reaction does occur, the physician can identify which vaccine may have been responsible,” according to the AMA.

Research suggests there’s no downside to getting the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine during the same visit, he notes. For example, a study published in November 2021 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine suggests that getting an influenza shot and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time posed “no safety concerns.” The study involved more than 15,000 participants, including 431 individuals who got a flu shot and a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

Researchers found that most participants who got both vaccines didn’t have symptoms, and those who did experienced mild effects, says Dr. Greg Martin (no relation to Stanley), a professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. He’s also president of the Society for Critical Care Medicine. “The likelihood of side effects goes up modestly, but they are likely to be mild and won’t affect your health or make you feel miserable for a long time,” he says.

[ READ: Myths About COVID-19 Vaccines. ]

Vaccine Side Effects

Side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot are similar, and include:

— Sore arm.

— Arm redness.

— Arm swelling.

In the rest of your body:

— Tiredness.

Headache.

— Muscle aches.

Chills.

— Fever.

Similarly, there’s also no evidence that administering a flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine to young children on the same day would be detrimental, says Dr. Liam Sullivan, an infectious disease physician with Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “We’ve been giving kids multiple vaccinations on the same day for a long time,” he says.

Children may get the COVID-19 shot along with the flu vaccine and other vaccines, according to the CDC.

[ Read: Can You Get the Flu Shot While Sick? ]

The Importance of Getting Vaccinated

Flu viruses are most prevalent from October through April, but can continue as late as May, according to the CDC. Influenza takes the lives of tens of thousands of people in the U.S. each year and causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations annually. Between 2010 and 2020, the flu caused 359,000 deaths in the U.S., according to Statista.

The toll of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is also well-documented. As of the third week of November, there were nearly 48 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S, including 772,440 that led to deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.

Infectious disease experts agree that, whether you obtain them during the same visit or on different days, it’s important to get both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot.

“This stands to be a very tricky flu season,” says Dr. Cory Fisher, a family medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic. “Last year, with patients taking extra precautions with social distancing, masking and hand hygiene, there was very little seasonal flu. Things are different this year as schools are opened up and people have become more lax with their precautions. This lends itself to a more-significant flu season and unfortunately the subsequent burden on our health care system. Many hospitals are already full with COVID cases and other seasonal infections. We all should be doing our part to keep ourselves safe from these infections which will subsequently protect our families and communities. Vaccination is an important part of that effort.”

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Is It Safe to Take the COVID-19 Vaccine and the Flu Shot at the Same Time? originally appeared on usnews.com

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